Ranchi-born American doctor working to find reason behind increase in cardiovascular deaths
Monday, August 20, 2018
Times News Network
Ranchi-born Prabhat Jha, a University of Toronto professor and director of the Centre for Global Health Research at St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto has been researching on premature mortality resulting from HIV/AIDS, tobacco, alcohol, malaria, maternal and child health, infectious and non-communicable diseases. Jha studied medicine at the University of Manitoba in Canada and following his MD, attended the University of Oxford in England as a Rhodes Scholar. He defended his PhD in epidemiology and public health and worked as a senior scientist in health and poverty for the World Health Organization’s Commission on Macroeconomics and Health. Presently, he is the director of the Centre for Global Health Research at St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, where he has conducted many public health studies, most notable being the Indian Million Death Study on premature mortality.
Death due to cardiovascular disease is on the rise in India, causing more than one quarter of all deaths in the country in 2015 and affecting rural populations and young adults the most, according to a study published in The Lancet Global Health. Led by Prabhat Jha, the study found that dying rates from ischaemic heart disease – cardiac issues caused by a narrowing of the heart’s arteries – in populations aged 30 to 69 increased rapidly in rural India and surpassed those in urban areas between the year 2000 and 2015. However, the probability of dying from stroke decreased overall, but increased in India’s northeastern states, where a third of premature stroke deaths occurred and only one sixth of the population lives. In these states, deaths due to stroke were about three times higher than the national average.
Jha, who is also a professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto said the finding that cardiac disease rose nationally in India and that stroke rose in some states was surprising. “This study also unearthed an important fact for prevention of death due to cardiovascular disease. Most deaths were among people with previously known cardiac disease, and at least half were not taking any regular medications,” he said.
Jha and his team also showed that younger adults, especially those born after 1970, have the highest rate of death due to heart problems caused by narrowing of the heart’s arteries. In India, many deaths occur at home and without medical attention. Jha said it was important to make progress in fighting the leading cause of death in India to make progress at the global level. His team demonstrated the unexpected patterns of heart
attack and stroke deaths. “Both conditions need research and action if the world is going to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of reducing cardiovascular mortality by 2030,” Jha said.